Social Work

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Thesis-based program

Program overview

As a nationally-accredited program, the Social Work Doctoral program produces highly qualified social work researchers and educators.  The aim of developing such advanced scholarly and research skills is to equip doctoral students for future roles as leaders in the social work profession.

Completing this program

  • Courses: Required core courses include Theory, History and Philosophy: Values, Ethics and Professional Beliefs; Research Foundations: Epistemology and Professional Knowledge-Building; Research Methods I: Quantitative; Research Methods II: Qualitative and Integrative Research Colloquia. Students must also complete 4 elective courses relevant to the student's area of specialization and research focus.

  • Research Proposal: Students must have their dissertation proposal approved by their supervisory committee prior to Candidacy Examination and applying for ethics certification.

  • Candidacy: The Candidacy Examination includes a written and oral component, both of which must be completed to the satisfaction of the examining committee.

  • Dissertation: Students conduct original research and prepare a written dissertation which is evaluated and is orally defended before an examination committee.


Post-secondary academia, government, research, hospitals/community health centers, mental health clinics, schools, non-profit/advocacy groups, social service/child welfare/family service agencies, employee assistance programs, private counselling, consultation.

A PhD in social work is usually considered a final degree.

Thesis-based program

Students are required to prepare a dissertation and successfully defend in an open oral defense.

Classroom delivery

Time commitment

Four years full-time; six years maximum


A supervisor is required; potential supervisors must be listed when applying to the program

Fees and funding

See the Graduate Calendar for information on fees and fee regulations, and for information on awards and financial assistance.


Learn about faculty available to supervise this degree.
Please note: additional supervisors may be available. Contact the program for more information.

  1. Placeholder Profile Image

    Yahya El-Lahib

    Accepting Inquiries
    Social work; Critical Disability Studies; Immigration, refugee and displacement studies; Social work & Bedouin Arabs; The scholarship of teaching and
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    Rick Enns

    Accepting Inquiries
    Canadian Federal Indian Education Policy, Immigration and Resettlement Policy, Critical Social Work Practice in Mental Health
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    Deinera Exner-Cortens

    Accepting Inquiries
    Healthy Relationship Promotion/Violence Prevention, Suicide Prevention, School Mental Health, Program Evaluation, Implementation Science
  4. Dr. Ilyan Ferrer

    Ilyan Ferrer

    Accepting Inquiries
    Social and critical gerontology; Intersectionality; Life course; (Im)migration and transmigration; Oral history and storytelling
  5. Linda Kreitzer

    Linda Kreitzer

    International Social Work, Refugees and immigrants, African social work issues, compassion fatigue, community practice International indigenous issues
  6. Yeonjung Lee

    Yeonjung Lee

    Accepting Inquiries
    Outcomes of Caregiving for Older Adults, Aging-in-place and Long-term Care in Later Life, Aging in Poverty and Wealth Inequality in Later Life, Perceived Discrimination in Older Adults, Psychosocial Risk Factors for Dementia, Cross-national/Cultural Comparative Study, Population-based Secondary Data Analyses
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    Anne Marie Mclaughlin

    Accepting Inquiries
    Translating social work values into practice
  8. Hieu Ngo

    Hieu Ngo

    Accepting Inquiries
    Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion, Youth crime prevention, Social entrepreneurship
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    Patricia Samson

    Accepting Inquiries
    Social Work Education, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Health/Mental Health
  10. Janki Shankar

    Janki Shankar

    Seeking Students
    Mental health and Disability,, Workplace safety and well being, Family Violence, Resettlement issues for immigrants and refugees

Admission requirements


A minimum of 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 point system, calculated on the Master of Social Work or equivalent Master’s degree.

Minimum education

A Master of Social Work or equivalent Master’s degree from a recognized institution.

Work samples

A sample of written work such as a published or unpublished scholarly paper, or a professional report.

Professional experience

Applicants should have substantial professional experience.


  • A program proposal outlining the applicant’s reasons for pursuing doctoral education in social work, educational goals and career expectations, prior research course work and experience, and a research proposal.
  • A Curriculum Vitae.

Reference letters

Three; two professional and one academic

Test scores


English language proficiency

An applicant whose primary language is not English may fulfill the English language proficiency requirement in one of the following ways:


For admission on September 1:

  • Canadians and permanent residents: Dec. 3 application deadline
  • International students: Dec. 3 application deadline

If you're not a Canadian or permanent resident, or if you have international credentials, make sure to learn about international requirements

Learn more about this program

Faculty of Social Work

Professional Faculties, Room 3256
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, ABT2N 1N4

Contact the Graduate Program Administrator

Visit the Faculty of Social Work website

Highlights of the Social Work program

David Este with students

Social Work researchers find cultural gaps in mental health services

David Este and Christa Sato work to reduce the stigma of mental illness in Asian men

Mishka Lysack

Helping our society transition to a lower carbon future

Mishka Lysack focuses on helping Canadians make the shift to a lower carbon future

Lana Wells

Preventing domestic violence before it occurs

Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence seeks to reduce and prevent domestic violence